One of the problems associated with compostable plastics is consumer confusion around different types of compostable plastics.
The perception very often is that all “Compostable Plastics” will naturally biodegrade in a short, defined period of time. This is not always the case, however.
Very often “Compostable plastics” need to be chemical treated to stimulate the decomposition process or must be exposed to very specific environmental conditions (e.g. temperatures, moisture levels) for the process to begin.
Quick Guide Terminology
They are the conventional plastics, complex organic compounds capable of being moulded, extruded and cast into various shapes and films. Polymers are most commonly fossil-fuel based and non-biodegradable.
Aka Bioplastics, the biopolymers are derived from renewable materials such as polylactic acid, corn or cellulose. The environmental dividend lies in the production process. These may or may not be biodegradable. Non bio-degradable plastics can be recycled alongside regular plastics.
Are material made from plant fibres, wood pulp, cellulose, corn or lactic acid, that composts within 12 weeks (if correctly processed). These cannot be recycled alongside regular plastics.
Plastics that will naturally decompose into organic materials in an ordinary garden compost tray or a compostable bin (brown bin) within a short period- for example, less than 40 days.